What is it with little kids and big garbage trucks?
They play pretend trash pick-up, they anxiously await the real deal at their homes and they go a little crazy in the car if they spot one out and about making the rounds.
On Tuesday, tiny tots got up close — and even in the driver’s seat — of a hulking huge Island Disposal garbage truck that made a special visit to their biggest — and littlest fans at the Langley preschool, South Whidbey Children’s Center.
“Our children love playing trash pick up,” explained Kris Barker, preschool executive director. “The trash truck workers are like super heroes to them.”
Asked for specifics of their obsession while viewing the shining blue trash truck, one little boy shouted out, “The tires. I love the big tires.”
Another offered, “The smell. I like how it stinks.”
Actually, the big truck gleamed from a recent wash and hadn’t yet started its morning pick-ups. So no smell, yet.
Island Disposal drivers talked about the job and the safety aspects of picking up and disposing of trash to an audience of about two dozen preschoolers, ages 2 to 5, and many herding adults.
“Empty, the truck weighs 35,000 pounds,” driver Phil Whitlock said. “We can load up to 56,000 pounds, which is the number you see on the side of the truck.”
Teacher Yvonne De LaRosa then asked her young charges, “Wow, 56,000 pounds. How many elephants is that?”
But the kids were too busy counting tires, holding their noses, and admiring the yellow-jacketed towering workers to think about elephants.
Site manager Michelle Trimbur explained Island Disposal picks up all of Whidbey Island’s trash except for Oak Harbor and the Navy base. “There’s eight routes,” she said. “We have about 500 customers on each route five days a week.”
It also provides recycling services.
At the back of the truck, pint-size pupils looked up wide-eyed in wonder at the big steel mouth that opens and closes and eats garbage 4,000 times a day.
“I think I see a few faces that watch me out here early in the morning when I’m here on Tuesdays,” Whitlock remarked.
Jokingly, longtime employee operations supervisor John Patterson added, “We see them when they’re really little, and then 50 to 60 years later, we see them again. It’s the old folks that come out, too and they set their clocks by us.”
Island Disposal said it was a first for them to be asked to talk to a class.
Usually, it’s more one on one.
“People, old and young, come out and see the drivers,” Trimbur said. “So the drivers take five minutes and explain the truck. It is a big fascination. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about safety around the trucks.”
Barker explained that the preschool often has people come in and talk about their jobs, such as police officers, fire fighters and parents.
The Sunflower class, a dozen children of 3.5 to 5 year olds, have been talking about garbage and recycling trucks all year at the preschool, Barker said. That led lead teacher Lalaina Valle to inquire about Island Disposal making a visit.
The company also passed out t-shirts and little toy garbage trucks.
“It was a super experience,” Barker said the next day. “The kids loved it. One of them accidentally lost his squishy garbage truck and the parent had to come back in the dark with a flashlight and find it in the parking lot.”